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Imitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery

Imitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery inploi Team | 21.10.2016

 As the old phrase goes, 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery', or as Pablo Picasso said more poignantly: “Good artists copy, great artists steal”.

Consistency is one of the principles of good user experience design. It is entirely logical to leverage patterns that your prospective users will be familiar with as it decreases the time it takes for a user to navigate through your product.

Yet it seems that we are moving beyond consistency and towards homogeneity: products are increasingly cast from a mould established by businesses at the forefront of digital innovation.

At its most rudimental level, the device and OS monopolies that exist lay the foundation for homogeneity. Design kits such as Google’s Material Design or more recently Facebook’s Origami give businesses the framework on which to rapidly design well-polished products. Furthermore, the tools designers use (Photoshop, Sketch etc.) play their part in standardising the design process. Even design inspiration is informed by relatively ubiquitous sources such as Dribbble, Behance and Pinterest.

But the biggest driving force behind the homogeneity of digital products is imitation. 

Borrow, copy, steal whatever you want to call it, every designer does it. As a team, we often find ourselves drooling over inspiring designs & products – digital & physical. I feel no shame in admitting that we spent a long time decoding the designs of some products we particularly admired and incorporated our findings into our beta product - using what others have done before you can provide a strong foundation on which to forge your own product identity.

Subsequently, one of the strongest indicators that you are building a strong product & brand is when you in turn are imitated. Oscar Wilde wryly hailed imitation as ‘the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness” and we are indeed flattered to see others borrowing from the inploi design team. Good looking #joboftheday designs Job&Talent ;-)

Imitation is the Sincerest form of Flattery


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About the author: Alex Hanson-Smith is co-founder & CPO of inploi.

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